Marx fans have been looking for MIDI versions of their favorite tunes from the shows and movies for years. I have created several Marx MIDI files and borrowed one - all in stereo - and am posting them here for the amusement of you, the viewer. I hope you enjoy them. There's more to come!
Gus Edwards' Postal Telegraph Boys - 1906
After a fairly harrowing experience with The LeRoy Trio, which found Groucho Marx stranded in Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1905 (he tried work driving a grocery wagon between Cripple Creek and Victor before his mother finally bailed him out), he landed a job with Gus Edwards in a production called Boys and Girls. Groucho was featured on a Gus Edwards original, with lyrics by Ed Madden. The song was called Farewell Killarney, and you can see a scan of the cover art from the sheet music (note Groucho's photo taken some six or seven years earlier on the cover), along with the lyrics from this epic, here.
Home Again - 1915
Do Not Say Goodbye
Do Not Say Good-Bye was written by Leonard Marx (Chico) in 1915 and featured in the Marxes' vaudeville production, Home Again. If you'd like to see the cover art from the sheet music, as well as the song lyrics, click here. This song was downloaded from The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection site of Johns Hopkins University. This site features an index of some 29,000-plus pieces of music published between 1780 and 1960. Public domain pieces published before 1925 are available for download - a truly exceptional site. (Thanks to Kathy Biehl for hipping me to this place.)
The Cocoanuts - 1925
In the motion picture version of The Cocoanuts, Robert Adams and Polly Potter had a duet at the beginning of Act I. Not so in the Broadway production, where each had a solo. After his betrothal to Miss Potter, Mr. Adams had a song with "The Boys," called Lucky Boy. Here are the lyrics.
Florida By The Sea
Florida By The Sea was just part of the opening/overture in the movie version of The Cocoanuts. In the stage version, it was presented in its entirety toward the end of Act I (just before "The Monkey Doodle Doo"). In a program from the Broadway show, Zeppo is listed as the performer (along with Lehman Byck and the Cocoanut Grove Girls and Boys) of this tune and I, for one, would love to have heard him sing it. The link at the top of this paragraph points to a MIDI version of the entire tune. You can sing along to the lyrics by clicking this link.
The Monkey Doodle Doo!
Here's one of the numbers that many Marx fans fast-forward through when watching the film version of The Cocoanuts on video. Well, I happen to like The Monkey Doodle Doo!
Animal Crackers - 1928
The stage version of Animal Crackers featured a song which was not included in the movie version. If you've never seen this show performed on the stage, then this will likely be your first opportunity to hear Kalmar and Ruby's The Musketeers. If you'd like to try and sing along, here are the lyrics.
Watching The Clouds Roll By
Actually, though, I perpetrated an understatement in the previous paragraph. There was more than one song in the stage version of Animal Crackers that never made it to the silver screen. This is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest melodies ever written by Kalmar and Ruby, with a typically offbeat lyric. There are only two reasons I can think of for not including Watching The Clouds Roll By in the movie. The first would be time constraints, as the stage play was much longer than the typical movie length of the time. But perhaps more important was the fact that one of the characters singing this love song wasn't even in the movie version. (This would be the newspaper writer, Mary Stewart, who was the love interest of John Parker on stage. In case you think Arabella was shortchanged in the original, she, too, had a different love interest - another newspaper writer by the name of Wally Winston.) If you're interested in singing along, Here are the lyrics.
Also from Animal Crackers (both the play and the film) comes Captain Spalding, which is probably the best-known and best-loved song from a Marx movie. This MIDI was created using the piano score, written by Kalmar and Ruby. This was my first attempt at creating a MIDI file from a Marx song and, as it turned out, I picked one of the most involved and difficult-to-transcribe songs.
The Cocoanuts - 1929
When My Dreams Come True
No, this is not a typo, nor a redundancy. The song, When My Dreams Come True, did not appear in the stage version of The Cocoanuts. As I explained earlier, this duet featuring the two leads, Bob and Polly, replaced a solo by each of them in the stage version. The question I have is, did Irving Berlin write this song for the stage show only to have it cut from the produced version? Or was it written a few years later, specifically for the movie version? Or, perhaps, was it written for some totally different purpose merely to be shoved into the movie version of The Cocoanuts? Perhaps we'll never know. But if you do know, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know. (The only hint I have is the copyright date of the sheet music, which is definitely 1929, suggesting this song was written specifically for this movie, or at least around the same time.)
Horse Feathers - 1932
Whatever It Is, I'm Against It!Whatever It Is, I'm Against It is the opening tune from Horse Feathers and is one of Groucho's most popular songs. This version is from the sheet music, again by Kalmar and Ruby.
A Night At The Opera - 1935
A Night At The Opera gave us the only major hit song commonly connected with a Marx Brothers movie. (Though Who's Sorry Now? from A Night In Casablanca was also a hit, the hit came before the movie.) Alone, by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, was sung by Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle and topped the charts for several weeks in 1936.
A Day At The Races - 1937
Blue Venetian Waters
Allan Jones scored another (lesser) hit with Blue Venetian Waters in A Day At The Races. This was also a recurring theme in the film. I'd like to thank Richard Reublin and all at Parlor Songs for allowing me to post this file (the only MIDI file so far that I didn't create myself, and probably the best of the lot as a result). Pay a visit to this wonderful site to hear MIDI transcriptions and see covers of lots of popular sheet music.
At The Circus - 1939
Lydia The Tattooed Lady
At The Circus may not have been a stellar achievement for the Marxes, but it certainly produced one of the most endearing and enduring tunes ever to appear in a Marx movie. That tune is the Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg classic, Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
A Night In Casablanca - 1946
Who's Sorry Now?
Although written in 1923, 23 years before this movie was released, Who's Sorry Now? became very popular after World War II, and was also a very big hit for Connie Francis. What its appearance in A Night In Casablanca has to do with any of this is anybody's guess. The music was penned by Ted Snyder, and the lyrics by a song-writing duo familiar to any fan of the Marxes, Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Here is the cover art and the lyrics from the sheet music.
You Bet Your Life - 1950s
You Bet Your Life
A lot of singers, musicians, conductors, composers, dancers and whatnot appeared on Groucho's quiz show, You Bet Your Life, during it's run of over a decade. But one of the most familiar tunes to any fan of this show is the music that played over the closing credits for much of its run. Written by one of Groucho's most well-respected bandleaders, Jerry Fielding, the song You Bet Your Life even has lyrics (written by Sid Robin).
(Note: While I may be wrong, it is my impression that the lyrics to this song did not exist when it was first written and were positively shoehorned into the music after the fact. Try singing along yourself and see what you think!)
Thanks to Anne of Marx In Print for giving me a copy of the sheet music
The Chico Motif
Motion picture audiences first heard what I call The Chico Motif (TCM) in the film version of Animal Crackers in 1930. This is the tune most people confuse with the McGuire Sisters' 1958 hit, Sugartime. While Sugartime bears a strong resemblance to TCM, the fellow who wrote the former wasn't even born when Chico began playing this theme.
I'm Daffy Over You
Over the years, this theme became closely associated with Chico and was often used to introduce him on radio and television. Always a solid businessman, Chico knew a good thing when he saw (or heard) it. By 1933 Chico had published at least two separate songs using TCM. The first is a song credited (words and music) to Chico Marx and Sol Violinsky, and called I'm Daffy Over You. Here are the lyrics. (Note: There is a published version of the script from "Monkey Business" that erroneously refers to this song as "Sugar In The Morning," further confusing the issue. This script was published after "Sugartime" was released, and was probably someone's attempt to identify the tune without doing the research necessary.)
Lucky Little Penny
The second tune to utilize TCM is the Chico Marx, Benny Davis, Sol Violinsky collaboration, Lucky Little Penny. While there is a very slight difference in the melody during the introduction and bridge (and the introduction is much shorter), the feel and structure of this tune is identical to "I'm Daffy Over You." Here are the lyrics.
Thanks to Ira for giving me copies of the sheet music.
Show Me A Rose
Although it was never featured in a Marx Brothers movie, Show Me A Rose (by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby) is more often connected with Groucho than any other performer, and it was one of his most popular performance pieces. Here is an arrangement of the original version of the song.
Why Should I Marry One Little Girl?
Another curiosity in the Marx songbook is a little tune called Why Should I Marry One Little Girl?. This song is credited to The Marx Brothers for "words and music" with a further credit: Revised by Ben and Sam Adelman. Anne of Marx In Print was told of the existence of this song by a fellow who visited her site and was interested in finding out the history of the piece. Anne checked with Ira Dolnick, who has a fine collection of Marx sheet music and is someone we often consult about obscure Marx matters. Ira explained that there was another song from 1920, from the Marx Brothers' show, Home Again, called How Can I Marry One Little Girl When I'm In Love With Them All. The sheet music featured a photo of Zeppo and was credited to Leo Marks [sic] and Fred Fisher. According to Ira, the chorus is similar in both tunes, but they're otherwise quite different. This is the 1936 version, and you can find the cover art and lyrics here. (Another curious thing about this piece is that the title on the cover, Why Should I Fall For One Little Girl?, is different from the title on the first page of the music itself, Why Should I Marry One Little Girl? Well, the Marxes were nothing if not mysterious, he said banally.)
My suspicion, totally unfounded, is that this song was updated with a quick buck in mind. (Note the revised cover art as well as the reference to Groucho in the lyrics.)
Thanks to Anne for sending the scans along for my use, and to Ira for filling in some of the details. If you have any further information on the piece, it would be most appreciated!